Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Woodstock - Part 1

40 Years Ago This Week, The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival took place just outside of Bethel, New York. Three Days of Peace, Love And Music ... and nothing BUT Peace, Love And Music ... well, and a little rain ... and some mud ... and some naked hippies running around ... and some REALLY bad brown acid ... and a COMPLETELY shut down New York Freeway System ... and an award-winning film documenting all of these events and more!!! Woodstock was ... and will always be ... the ULTIMATE Music Festival. When the film was released the following year, I was COMPLETELY blown away ... running at close to three hours (nearly FOUR hours in the Director's Cut!), it did a GREAT job of capturing ALL of the aspects that went into this festival. (When it opened in theaters here in Chicago, a bunch of us went on opening night ... and sat through it TWICE!!! We just couldn't get over how AMAZING all of this was ... and what we had missed!!!)

For many of us, we were discovering most of these artists for the very first time. I was COMPLETELY blown away by the likes of Joe Cocker and Ten Years After, my two immediate favorites ... and while I was familiar with The Who and Sly and the Family Stone, I had NEVER seen them perform like THIS before!!! Debuts by new artists like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Santana and Sha Na Na (what the heck were THEY doing there?!?!?) won me over as a fan for life. And Jimi Hendrix at the end?!?!? Could you have choreographed a better ending to this whole extravaganza?!?!? Even some of the "folksie" artists like Ritchie Havens, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie and John Sebastian put on steller performances ... and we haven't even scratched the surface on all of the OTHER acts that were there who didn't make the final cut of the film for one reason or another (MOSTLY because their record labels were too greedy to come to terms with any sort of cross-licensing.)

Our online buddy Artie Wayne was there ... and documented his memories for his own website ... but when he did, he only ran Part One of the story!!!

That's because he saved Part Two of the story for US!!! To run EXCLUSIVELY on The Forgotten Hits Website!!! (Thank you, Artie ... we REALLY appreciate this!!!)

When Artie heard that we'd be saluting 1969 throughout the month of August, he gave me a call ... and permission to run HIS piece on OUR site. So today ... please enjoy the COMPLETE Artie Wayne Woodstock Story ... available ONLY on Forgotten Hits!!!


Kent ...
How ya' doin'? I hope you and your readers are having a great summer. I want to thank all of you again for helplng me to reach a million hits on my blog!
I plan to resume posting articles in September, but I didn't want to miss the excitement of of the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock, the crowning achievement of my friend Artie Kornfeld, The Father Of Woodstock. So I'm letting you post the second part of my 1969 Woodstock experience from the forthcoming book, "I Did It For A Song" copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne.

You can read part one at http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/my-return-to-woodstock-1969/

Part two ... you can read EXCLUSIVELY on Forgotten Hits during this wonderful celebration! I hope you enjoy my "trip"!
Artie Wayne
When my friend, the Father Of Woodstock, Artie Kornfeld invited me to the festival in 1969, I thought it was going to be a great picnic, I wasn’t expecting a life changing experience!
Back in 1967 my wife Sheilah was working at Mercury records as a secretary to Artie Kornfield (“Pied Piper”, “Dead Man’s Curve”) We hung out a lot with Artie and his wife Linda. When we got divorced I got the dog and she got the Kornfelds!

Then one day Sheilah calls me up to tell me that she’s working with Artie again. It seems that he and his partner Michael Lang are putting on a music and art festival at the end of August in upstate NY at a place called Woodstock, and she’s his personal assistant. It sounds a bit disorganized, but I don’t say anything ... if anyone can pull it together, they can.

It’s three hours before Allan Rinde and Rick Bolsom, from Cashbox magazine, Lita Eliscu a freelance writer (Rolling Stone), Cookie the groupie, and I are scheduled to go up to the Woodstock Music and Art festival. Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang, are having serious troubles getting permits and have to change locations to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, NY, at the last minute. Unfortunately, I’m having serious problems of my own, I can’t score any grass to take to the event!
As a last resort I call my friend Heather MacRae, who’s currently starring in the smash hit, “Hair” On Broadway. She must know someone in the “Hippie” cast who can help us out. She leaves our names at the backstage door with a note to go upstairs to see her friends, James Rado and Gerome Ragni, who co-wrote the musical.

When we walk into Rado and Ragni’s dressing room, they look at Allan and me suspiciously, with cameras hanging around our necks, and tape recorders dangling from our shoulders. I laugh and nervously explain that we’re not cops or from the press trying to get a story, and show them our Woodstock press pass. Fortunately they believe us and when we tell them our “predicament”, they sell us a “lid” from their personal stash (at cost) and hand us a couple of capsules of mescaline for free, in the spirit of “Peace and Love”. We thank them and go to the garage to pick up Allan’s Buick Cutlass, and our friends, then head we head off for our weekend adventure.”

“Let The Sun Shine … Let The Sun Shine In … The Sun Shine In!”


Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne from his forthcoming autobiography,
“I Did It For A Song”

For more on Artie Kornfeld and the official celebration of 40th Woodstock anniversary :

Special thanks to Phil X. Milstein for the enhanced Woodstock poster he made!

(By the way, you'll find a complete chapter devoted to "Hair" ... The Musical ... coming up this weekend in Forgotten Hits!!!) kk

(a Forgotten Hits Exclusive, courtesy of Artie Wayne!)

The festival gets off to a great start with a set by Ritchie Havens, and then it starts to rain … and rain … and rain. There’s a buzz already that this is going to be a historic event. The press tent is alive with anticipation of seeing the artists and people behind the scenes.

I’m skeptical when I hear that a lawyer is taking over as head of Columbia Records, until I meet Clive Davis awash in the rain, the mud, and the good vibrations. How cool it is for the head of a record company to be out here “roughing it” like this with his artists!

Although my friends and I have warm, dry accommodations, food, water, and plenty of intoxicants, a half a million other people who are also here have to rough it in the mud and the rain! We run into a completely soaked (and delightfully stoned) Artie Kornfeld, The Father Of Woodstock, who tells us that thousands of people are crashing the gates, and Woodstock has become a free concert! Starry eyed and drooling, he turns around and melts back into the crowd.
Thousands of people are still pouring in after midnight and I warn my friends that we were probably going to be in the middle of a riot between the “haves” and the “have nots!”

I knew that this whole “Peace and Love” thing could blowup in a minute … but no one is listening to me as they slowly passed the bong around. I don’t know if it’s my paranoia of “Drug Crazed Hippies” rushing the motel or my fear of getting my new Fry boots dirty … I just knew I had to get the hell outa’ there!

After being at Woodstock less than 24 hours, I say goodbye to my friends and decide to hitchhike back to the city. I’m 27 yeas old but, hitchhicking is something I never tried before. At the side of an on ramp, I see Vince Aletti, writer for the Village Voice, who I know from the press parties I crash. He has his thumb out and looks pretty discouraged. This is his first time hitchhiking, too … but I act like a veteran and convince him that if we put on great big smiles, and act sincere … we’re bound to get a ride! In less than 10 minutes we’re picked up by a guy in an old Chevy wagon, who happens to be going all the way into the city! Just like the guys who rode the rails and became “Boxcar Buddies”, Vince and I had a shared experience that went “without a hitch”, so to speak, “Hitchhiking pals” for the rest of our lives!

Finally, I’m back in my apartment, thankful to be away from all of those people … I don’t believe all those people … Damn! It’s still early, so I pack my duffel bag and grab a subway out to Coney Island, stopping only long enough to swallow a little capsule Rado and Ragni, had given me. I don’t know why, but the rest of the day is magical! I feel so much love for Everyone I run into. I don’t even notice that I’m surrounded by a million people on the the beach … twice as many as there was at Woodstock … but now … somehow I don’t care!”
From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne
To reach Artie Kornfeld:

Thanks again, Artie, for this GREAT exclusive. Now since you're not posting this month, why don't you spend this time finishing up that frickin' book so we can read the WHOLE thing already?!?!? (lol) kk